Ford might take zone lighting to a vehicle's roof

Ford currently offers a zone lighting system that allows drivers to turn exterior lights on and off remotely using an app. But it seems Ford engineers are thinking about tweaking this system.

Today’s zone-lighting system repurposes other lighting elements, like the headlights and taillights. In a patent application published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Sept. 5 (and originally filed in 2022), Ford discusses using dedicated roof-mounted lights instead.

As described in the application, lighting elements would be sandwiched between the roof panel and the tops of the doors, windshield, and rear window. This would provide a ring of lights around the vehicle’s roof—with several possible uses.

According to Ford, these lights “could potentially meet requirements for daytime running lamps,” but could also be illuminated at a lower intensity in autonomous vehicles, which would need the lights to be seen by drivers and pedestrians, but wouldn’t necessarily need the added illumination to “see” the road ahead.

Ford roof-mounted lighting system patent image

Ford roof-mounted lighting system patent image

Different patterns could also be used to convey information. In an EV or plug-in hybrid, lights could blink while the vehicle is charging and stay illuminated when charging is complete, according to Ford. It’s a more elaborate version of the charging-indicator lights that can already be found on the dashboards of some EVs.

Other possibilities include light pulses triggered when the driver walks up with the key fob, or yellow blinking that mirrors a vehicle’s hazard lights.

As with all patent applications, there is no guarantee that this lighting system will reach production. But it might be a bit easier to integrate into future vehicles than some of Ford’s other recent patents, including an extendable cargo bed for pickup trucks.

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